Shacharis was fine. The minyon was “strong” (i.e. there were more than 10 men there), but I felt a bit weak (physically). Shiva is exhausting. And sitting on a low chair is also physically difficult.
MES’s yeshiva buddies made breakfast for Nechemiah and MES. Still no butter to be found in the country (one boy ran to the grocery store to check again).
The morning was very quiet. Spencer came by, and we shmoozed. He had a brilliant theory for the timing of both the finalization of the divorce and the death of Yitzchak Meir: Time to move on. YMS left (or was taken away) so that I could start a new life without the “burden” of my ex-wife or my disabled son. I liked hearing that. The thought of starting a new life last week was a bit scary, but now it is as if my son said “Dad, I’ve done my job here, and I am going to step aside to let you get on with your life. Go, dad! Go out and get married again and continue building your family! I am rooting for you!” I thought about going on a trip to the USA after Chanukah (I end Shloshim during Chanukah). That might be a good break.
Rabbi Yehoshua Ratner came. He had lost his son several years ago, and I told him the story I heard at Machon Daniel by Rabbi Gurwitz (the first story or class I heard at the kollel) about Rabbi Mendel Weinbach (of Ohr Somayach) and how his son was almost burned to death, and after a year of rehabilitation, he was run over and killed by a car while riding a bicycle. During the shiva, another Rav approached him and said “welcome to the club” – the club of parents that have lost a child. I almost cried as I said this over, as I was sitting next to another man who had also lost a son – but his son was a “normal” son that was living in the home for several years and then suddenly died. I could not imagine such a test. But then he said to me how my test was so difficult. That’s how it goes.
The boys were out from 10am to noon, paying a shiva call at their mother’s apartment.
Mincha was very strong. Shiur Aleph from Mordechai’s yeshiva came, and so we had about 20 or more people.
Mordechai called the bagel store and ordered a bagel platter (bagels, cream cheese, lox spread) courtesy of Uncle Cliffy. We’ll get it tomorrow morning immediately after shacharis.
Rabbi and Mrs. Geffen came and stayed until 2pm. We looked at old pictures of trips we took together 17 years ago with the Ohr Somayach yeshiva. Dr. Yamin Cohen was there, too, and we discussed YMS’s medical condition, and how his brain disappeared, yet his brain stem continued to control his breathing, and what that might mean. I was invited to the Geffen’s and I hope to go some Shabbos in the near future.
David Morris & Avrohom Leventhal (both of the charity organization Lemaan Achai) paid a visit.
Libby Kislin, formerly the bookkeeper of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, and a client of mine when I worked for ESF, called from NJ (she has said in the past how she would also call me up to say “Larry help me!” and I would patiently get her out of the mess).
David Kallus, of the Vasikin minyon came by. He only arrived this morning from the USA (he often makes trips to the USA for his medical practice). As I spoke, I mentioned the “timing” idea that Spencer had thought of. He didn’t realize that I was divorced, and said that because no one speaks during the prayer service, no one gets to know the other person (we had been davening for almost 15 months and he never knew). He also realized that the brownies that I brought each week were baked by me, and not by my wife. We also discussed moving one’s place in shul. The custom is to move to a different place in the shul, but the Tzitz Eliezer is lenient, and allows someone to keep his place where he stands.
Maariv was amazingly strong. We must have had 20 men in the home. Danny Wajnblum, Leron Genstil, Shmuel Bisk (he also came to the funeral, and I told him how I was saddened that I could not speak with the people at the funeral to even thank them for coming), Reuven Solomon, Aryeh Sonnenberg, and many others. I felt the strength of the men behind me as I lead them in Maariv.
Afterwards, many of them stayed, but it was harder to talk to so many people at once.
Dinner was provided by the Kaplan family: Spaghetti and Meatballs, garlic bread and carrot soup.
Rabbi Yaakov Montrose came with Dovid Fox.
Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair arrived just before 10pm. His sister has been in a coma for five years. The doctors have declared her brain dead, and have given up hope. Rabbi Sinclair said that the torah has two verses that speak about healing. One is where G-d says that “I am your healer”. The other is “he will surely heal” which is the verse that permits doctors to heal patients. But without that verse, doctors would not be allowed to heal. HOWEVER, no where in the Torah are doctors granted permission to “give up hope!” If someone is sick, so then they heal the sick person. If they can’t, so they should admit that “I am unable to heal this person at this time.” Giving up, is not an option – that is for G-d to decide if hope is lost or not – and usually it isn’t.
Rabbi Daniel and Mrs. Simon arrived around 10:30pm. I realized I had a picture of Rabbi Simon and Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair together, and immediately showed them the picture from Nechemiah’s bris, which had Rabbi Simon as the mohel, and Rabbi Sinclair holding Nechemiah for the naming. Then I showed Nechemiah the picture of him at the bris, and said Nechemiah, here is you, and you see this man with the knife in his hand – that is Rabbi Simon, the man sitting in front of you right now. Rabbi Simon said that very few people know who their mohel was (MOM: who was my mohel??). At the end, we spoke about Kayla Esther, and the problems I saw she was facing, which were exacerbated by the fact that she is the only “normal” girl in her school. The bottom line is that I have to continue to love her and maintain the connection. If a person has a good relationship with their father (on Earth), then they will also have a good relationship with their Father (in Heaven).
At 11pm everyone left. Exhaustion is setting in. But I am on a high because I saw so many good people today.